Canada's Trudeau to tour Alberta oil town ravaged by wildfire

Fri May 13, 2016 5:00am EDT
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By Ernest Scheyder

WANDERING RIVER, Alberta May 13 (Reuters) - Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will on Friday see the devastation caused by a wildfire that tore through the Alberta town of Fort McMurray and forced several oil sands operations to shut down.

The inferno is the first natural disaster to confront Trudeau, whose Liberals took power last November. He promises the federal government will do everything it can to help in a rebuilding effort likely to take years.

After touring the most damaged areas, Trudeau will hold a news conference with Alberta Premier Rachel Notley at 5:15 p.m. ET (2115 GMT) in the provincial capital of Edmonton.

The 88,000 people who were evacuated hurriedly as the town caught fire are living in temporary accommodation across the province while authorities work to restore power, gas, water and communications.

Local officials say it will be 10 days before they can even produce a plan for resettlement, much less allow people to return to a place where small fires are still erupting.

"I know how stressful it is to leave everything behind," said Alberta Municipal Affairs Minister Danielle Larivee.

"But your safety is very important to us and your community is not yet safe and until it is people cannot go home," she told a news conference on Thursday.

A Reuters eyewitness saw a steady stream of trucks carrying drinking water head north on Thursday towards the large camps that house workers employed by oil sands projects.   Continued...